Though the president of the Church cannot be everywhere, "the wisdom of the Lord provided us guidelines whereby we who hold the priesthood of God can serve, can teach, can testify to the families of the Church," President Thomas S. Monson said in his priesthood address Saturday evening.
"Yes, I speak of home teaching," added President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency."The home teaching program is a response to modern revelation commissioning those ordained to the priesthood" to watch over the Church, he said, as outlined in D&C 20:42, 47, 53-54.
"In performing our home teaching responsibilities, we are wise if we learn and understand the challenges of the members of each family," President Monson said. "A home teaching visit is also more likely to be successful if an appointment is made in advance."
He then told humorous incidents to illustrate the wisdom of making appointments. One occurred when President Gordon B. Hinckley and his wife, Sister Marjorie Hinckley, hosted a dinner at their home for members of the Missionary Executive Committee and their wives. The missionary committee consisted of Elder Spencer W. Kimball, Elder Hinckley and Elder Monson, then all members of the Quorum of the Twelve. The Hinckleys' home teacher arrived without his companion and without having called in advance.
"President Hinckley graciously invited the home teacher to come in and sit down and instruct three apostles and their wives concerning our duty as members. With a bit of trepidation, the home teacher did his best. President Hinckley thanked him for coming, after which the home teacher made a prompt retreat."
He urged home teachers to be friends to those whom they visit. "A friend makes more than a dutiful visit each month. A friend is more concerned about helping people than getting credit. A friend cares. A friend loves. A friend listens. And a friend reaches out."
Home teaching answers many prayers and is associated with miracles, President Monson said, telling of situations with which he has been acquainted.
One pertained to Dick Hammer, proprietor of a cafe in St. George, Utah, whose wife was a member of the Church, although he wasn't. The home was faithfully visited by Willard Milne over many years until finally, in his 90th year, Brother Hammer was baptized and then a year later received his temple blessings in the St. George Temple.
Speaking of home teachers being involved in activation of members, President Monson said, "As years come and then go and life's challenges become more difficult, the visits of home teachers to those who have absented themselves from Church activity can be the key which will eventually open the doors to their return. With this thought in mind, can we brethren not reach out to those for whom we are responsible and bring them to the table of the Lord to feast on His word and to enjoy the companionship of His spirit?"
Quoting President Ezra Taft Benson as saying home teaching is "priesthood compassionate service," President Monson shared a letter from Sister Mori Farmer about service her family received through home teachers when the family was in difficult financial services.
Returning from a family reunion, the Farmer family found a letter taped to their garage door from the home teachers, saying, "We and about 50 of our friends had a great party at your house."
The family then entered the home to find their carpet fixed, house painted and repairs made. "Almost everyone we talked to told us, with tears in their eyes, what a spiritual experience it had been to participate," President Monson quoted from Sister Farmer's letter.
"Other instances could well be cited," President Monson said. "However, I turn to one example to describe the type of home teachers we should be. . . . I speak of the Master teacher, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. The biblical account says of Him, He `went about doing good.' (Acts 10:38.) With Him as our unfailing Guide and Exemplar, we shall qualify for His divine help in our home teaching. Lives will be blessed. Hearts will be comforted. Souls will be saved."